While I do love reading, one of my favorite things to do is watch a great television series. I am fairly picky with my shows, only dedicating my time to the shows that I feel are made very well. I am going to share with you my list of favorite television shows, because during this quarantine we all need something good to watch as a form of escapism. There are also doldrums where there are no exciting shows to keep up with, which leads me to fall back onto my usual list and watch these reruns. Here we go!
The Marvelous Ms. Maisel
Is this my actual all-time favorite show? I think so. Written by Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls creator and writer), this Amazon Prime series is set in the 1950s-1960s about a fascinating woman who seeks a career in stand-up comedy–something outrageously unheard of at the time. She defies societal norms by putting motherhood on the back-burner, divorcing her husband, and making a name for herself as a foul-mouthed, tell-it-how-it-is, headstrong woman. Look out for Susie, my favorite character on the show. Aside from the awesome femininity in the show, the production design is magnificent. I really feel mesmerized by the wardrobe and set design. Please, go watch it.
I am sure almost all of us have watched Friends, and it simply lifts your spirits. I will leave you with only this: comfort T.V. with aesthetically appealing production and costume design. You will love every character.
If the ’90’s aesthetic from Friends is not enough for you, then dive deeper into the early ’90’s wardrobe in Seinfeld. Aside from the aesthetic though, Seinfeld is one of the funniest sitcoms, highlighting the hilarity of physical comedy with Kramer and how George, Jerry, and Elaine can take a minuscule detail and turn it into a crisis. This show is ‘about nothing’ as it follows four friends around in their daily lives. These four characters are horrible, unsympathetic, self-consuming people that nearly destroy the lives of everyone around them. These nine seasons are followed by a spectacular finale. The show will now be on Netflix in the beginning of 2021.
The Office (American Version)
This is probably the most quotable show, specifically the American version. I find Michael Scott more lovable here. If you haven’t seen it, The Office is about average Americans working for a struggling paper company in Pennsylvania. There is something so comforting and beautiful in shows about the most ordinary things. Michael Scott is an unorthodox boss, who is clingy, tries way to hard to be cool, and distracts all the employees from their work. Each character is a caricature of various personalities. My favorite is Dwight, an authoritative, kiss-up that easily gets teased from the sarcastic Jim. I also love Creed Bratton, a mysterious man who only has about one line per episode, but the cumulation of all those lines gives us a hint into his real personality: an ex-cult member that stole the identity of Creed Bratton. Watch before it leaves Netflix at the end of 2020.
This show has me laugh out loud so many times. New Girl is about the beautiful, quirky teacher, Jessica Day that moves into a loft with three male roommates. The plot follows their life struggles as 30-something-year-olds living in Los Angeles. Their personalities are so well crafted, and the bickering between the characters are hilarious. Schmidt and Nick are two of the male roommates that will make you roll on the ground laughing.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Now, here is a show that is far too underrated. This show says the most controversial lines, fearing no topic. It has the same idea as Seinfeld, where it is not really about anything except the characters interacting, but these characters ruin everyone’s lives around them and are so incredibly selfish. The psychology behind these degenerate characters is actually very fascinating. The show focuses on five egotistical people running a dead bar who connive, cheat, lie, and scheme to get their way in each episode. “The Gang,” as the group is called, will nearly make you die of laugher from their dark comedy.
This lovely show is about an 18-65 year study group at Greendale Community College. All the characters had some sort of set back or fall out in their lives that placed them at this school. The idea is that community college is like high school for adults, so egotistical study group runs the community college and basically controls all the events at the school. Ken Jeong and John Oliver are two hilarious professors at the college, and watch out for the many outfits and funny phrase of the Dean!
Parks and Rec
Similar to The Office, Parks and Rec is a sitcom about ordinary people with wildly eccentric personalities working in an office for a documentary. The filming style is the same, with a single camera film crew and a talking head interview. This time, it is in the public sector of government, Parks and Recreation Division. Amy Poehler is a fast-tasing, high strung, enthusiastic the star of the show that seeks to clean up her town in Indiana, followed by many disgruntled, lazy government employees.
The Good Place
From the creator of Parks and Rec is The Good Place. Kristen Bell’s character, Eleanor Shellstrop, dies and is sent to “The Good Place” which is a secular version of Heaven (claiming that all the religions were close to the truth). Eleanor is thrilled and tours her paradise with her dream house and soulmate. However, there was a mix-up, and she secretly knows should have gone to “The Bad Place.” Eleanor begins to work tirelessly as she tries to improve herself and become a good enough person to stay in the happy afterlife. At first I was unsure about my opinion on this show, because I thought the dialogue and sets were a little too cheesy for me. But, the end of season 1 has a huge plot twist, and I started to love this show. Not only is it a sitcom, but it deals on a deep level with ethics, existentialism, and human nature. I watched this show in a point where I felt weighted down by the sadnesses in life, but this show brought a light of optimism to me.
Billy on the Street
If you ever want a show that is mindlessly entertaining, it is this one. This show stars Billy Eichner and his irreverent wit (often accompanied by actors and comedians) running down the streets of New York and offering a dollar to people to answer a random question. These questions are always pop-culture related, oddly specific, hold almost no truth, and usually based on Billy’s opinion. If that doesn’t sell you, then I don’t know what will. Seeing the multitude of reactions among each stranger approached is hilarious, and Billy Eichner’s screams of frustration are memorable.
Another show that is the quintessential definition of cozy television. Gilmore Girls is about a 30-something-mom and her 16-year-old daughter who are both trying to navigate their way through life in an adorable, small town of Connecticut. When her daughter, Rory, is accepted to a prestigious prep school, her mom, Lorelei, turns to her estranged and very wealthy parents to ask for a loan. Lorelei ran away from her parents when she found out she was pregnant at 16-years-old and worked for everything she has, so she has a hard time asking them for money. Her parents provide the money with the deal that Lorelei and Rory must attend a Friday night dinner each week with them. While the family is now in contact, feuds and old wounds are very prominent to each character. This drama series is heartwarming and comforting. Lorelei is my favorite character, as a fast-talking, eccentric, coffee-addicted mom that is still a teenager at heart.
Dead to Me
Jen is a recent widow who’s husband has been killed in a hit-and-run, and she is determined to solve the crime. She meets quirky, happy Judy at a grief group, whose personality clashes with the uptight Jen. They develop a bond and their friendship heals their sorrows and trauma. However, a lot of secrets rise to the surface that could ruin this friendship. I love this show for the earnest moments and the comedic relief, but the plot twists and secrets actually had me surprised. Sesason 2 is coming out in May 2020 on Netflix.
This show can fit in the crime category below, as well, but I placed it here because it is more of a soapy teen drama. Do not let those off-put connotations associated with “soapy” stop you from watching this show though. Set in the beautiful outer banks of North Carolina are four “Pogues” that are hippie-surfer teens rivaling the “Kooks,” rich, entitled folks. Outer Banks showcases the lovable mischief-makers boating around in the marsh, while balanced with teen romance and crime-mystery plot twists. The story begins with the protagonist, John B., an orphan, following a teaser hunt with is friends that his father left him to complete. But, the story tenses as characters reveal criminal secrets. This show is aesthetically pleasing, engaging, and winsome.
Game of Thrones
There are some shows on this list that do not need introducing, because almost everybody can agree that they are fantastic. Game of Thrones is one of them. I have been meaning to start reading the series for months, but right now, I am enjoying rewatching the series a second time. I was late to the game of watching this show the first time around, but when I did begin, I binge-watched all the seasons it in less than two months in 2019.
This is a drama/action series that is about multiple families fighting for power in Westeros and how their lives overlap. Nudity, violence, and gore are not shy in this series. The setting is a mixture between fantasy and medieval with dragons and zombie-like creatures; however, there are also political elements that lend clout to the show. If you haven’t heard, the last season was very disappointing, for many character arcs where destroyed, plots that had been advancing for years distorted, and the writing seemed to careless. But, do not let that keep you from watching the show because the majority of the many seasons are spectacular.
This is a show that needs no introduction and is probably my favorite action show ever. Breaking Bad is about a chemistry teacher that finds out he has lung cancer, leading him to start making meth to sell for money for his family. This leads him to working with the drug cartel and building a drug empire of his own. The writing for this show is absolutely incredible. So much suspense, action, and hidden details. My favorite thing about this show is the character development. I cannot tell you about a better show than this one; it is incomparable.
Better Call Saul
This television show is a spin-off of Breaking Bad, centered on the intriguing and smooth-talking lawyer, Saul Goodman. The show currently has five seasons on AMC and is still filming. Jimmy McGil is a lawyer who gets caught up in the drug cartel and notoriously defends criminals, finding the best loopholes in every trial.
This television show on Netflix is easy to binge-watch. It is a sci-fi series about a group of middle school boys in a small town in Indiana during the 1980s. This is told from the perspective of the boys, featuring supernatural destruction. When one of their friends in the group goes missing, they must search for him themselves. While this is a sci-fi/fantasy show, the plot is well-balanced by some romance and friendship, as well as 80’s nostalgia.
The Twilight Zone
A black and white piece of literary film of horror, suspense, and science-fiction. Each episode has a different plot and characters, showcasing thrilling and mind-boggling storylines that take place in another dimension, “the Twilight Zone.” Are we in the Twilight Zone?
Orange is the New Black
I love this show. Piper Chapman is sentenced to a minimum-security prison in Connecticut for her partake with a drug operation 10 years earlier. In this prison, she meets people from all walks of life, and I love how this show does flashbacks to portray what every prisoner went to jail for. While there is a main focus on the prisoner’s stories and how they interconnect, there is also a great amount of politics, depicting the unfair treatment the guards unleash on the prisoners with no one there to stop it. Orange is the New Black does an amazing job at eliciting empathy from the audience, because every one of these prisoners needs forgiveness.
Similar to Orange is the New Black, Good Girls is a show that empathizes with characters that make mistakes and commit immoral actions. Good Girls focuses on three females that need money very badly, so they rob a grocery store. This moment changes their lives forever, as they get sucked into a counterfeit operation, making no profit, but trying to save their own lives. While not excusing such actions, this show allows the reader to understand their desperation for money (one girl needs money to pay for her daughter’s kidney transplant, another to pay off her debt after her husband spent all their money, and the third to pay for a custody lawyer). These once good girls become sick of playing by the rules and still not getting the respect and dignity they deserve, so they resort to a life of crime.
This show is a prequel of the classic Alfred Hitchcock film, Psycho. Bates Motel is a horror series that follows Norman Bates and, the uncomfortably close connection to, his mother, Norma Bates. I don’t want to say too much to avoid leaking any spoilers, but I will say that this showcases a horrific downward spiral into the Bate’s family’s mental illness, with plot twists waiting at every turn.
The People v. O.J. Simpson
Ah, the infamous trial that lasted eleven months. O.J. Simpson, the famous football player, was accused of two accounts of murder in 1994 but was acquitted entirely. This crime drama shows vividly the ins and outs of the trial, how that glove seemed not fit his hand, and how race played a role in exonerating this “lovable celebrity.” I have to say, I was extremely impressed with how gripping and detailed this series was, especially in regard to the acting!
This show on Netflix is like a modern-day Twilight Zone with more thrilling, deceptive, and mind-bending narratives. Each episode is a completely new plot with new cast members and new futuristic settings that deal with where our world could be heading. I fall in and out of watching this show, because while it is gripping and unique, there are a few episodes that scar me. If you are intrigued by the bizarre, this show is for you.
This dark, intriguing series is about FBI agents in the 1970s (when serial killers first started conducting crimes) that have a different view on criminals. In the 1970s, criminals were labeled “freaks” and then thrown in jail, never to be thought of again. However, two FBI agents begin to dive into criminal psychology to prove that criminals experienced some form of abuse or hindered development to cause them to live a life of heinous acts. This is the gateway to the fascination of criminal psychology that exists today. A very compelling, slightly jarring show.
Three words: animals and scandals. This documentary follows three private exotic tiger zoos in the United States, interviewing the unique zoo owners and watching as they fight each other with law suits and sabotage. The characters are bizarre, immersing you into their world of vengeance and destruction, as they seek fame and pride in owning and breeding tigers.
Conversations With a Killer: Ted Bundy
This is my favorite documentary, examining the serial killer, Ted Bundy. The show plays as a series of tapes that show the past of Ted Bundy growing up, beginning his murders, interviewing victims and psychologists, and finally recorded tapes of Ted Bundy talking. This was the first trial that was broadcasted on television. Ted Bundy has become such an enigma, for he appeared charming, was an intelligent law student, and yet was predicted to have murdered over a hundred people. Ted Bundy is frightening, but he has caught the attention of so many viewers. If you are interested in murder-mysteries, this documentary is for you.
I grew up watching this show with my family, and the jokes are hilarious, followed by heart-felt content. This show is about a middle class family living in the middle of the United States (Indiana). It follows two parents and three children throughout school and work as they grow up. The middle class culture is exaggerated a little, but at the same time, very relatable.
Malcolm in the Middle
This television show is similar to the one above, in the sense that they are both about middle class families. However, this show focuses more on the perspective of the rascal children: four boys. The boys are all menaces, using their smarts for pranks and deceptive plans. The show is adorable, fun, and sometime witty.